Oxford expands with billionaire's £75m gift

A billionaire philanthropist is backing Europe's first major school of government, which opens at Oxford University later today. Len Blavatnik, a Russian-American industrialist, has ploughed £75m into the venture so far and says he is prepared to offer more. The school, which will be launched with a message of support from the former US president Bill Clinton, aims to train outstanding graduates from around the world in the skills and responsibilities of government. It will show them how to approach issues such as climate change and to tackle health crises like the potential flu pandemic.

The first students will arrive in 2012 and the school will eventually accept 120 a year. They will study for a Master's degree which will include a unique mixture of the humanities, law, science, social sciences, technology, health, finance, energy and security policy.

Paul Collier, a professor of economics at Oxford and an adviser to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, said: "The 21st century demands a new skill set for dealing with public policy than the skill set traditionally taught in public policy schools. For instance, knowledge of climate change and to deal with health scares are an important part of that skill set. If you don't have that, you take leadership decisions which are very, very damaging. You need a leadership team that understands the nature of medical sciences."

The only other institution offering similar courses is the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in the US. But Professor Collier said that while the Harvard school looked at solutions from a US perspective, its British peer would have a more global outlook. "For Oxford, the world is bigger than the country," he added.

Mr Blavatnik, 53, is the founder and chairman of Access Industries – a company with investments focused on natural resources, chemicals and telecommunications in the US, Europe and South America. His donation is one of the largest by an individual donor to any university.

He studied in Moscow before emigrating to the US in 1978. He received a Master's degree in computing from Columbia University and a postgraduate degree in business administration from Harvard. He has previously donated to Harvard, Cambridge and Tel Aviv universities and British institutions such as the British Museum, the Tate, the Royal Opera House and the Prince's Trust.

In a video address at today's launch, Mr Clinton, who studied at Oxford, will say: "Oxford's reputation as an international powerhouse of research will help students and the global community to better understand not just politics and economies, but also public health, environmental science, development, genetics and the humanities."

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's most starring part
News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
News
We are phenomenally good at recognising faces; the study showed that humans have been selected to be unique and easily recognisable
science

Human faces unique 'because we don't recognise each other by smell'

Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
news

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise
student

Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Head of Maths

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Head of Maths position at a prestigious ...

RE Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Teacher of Religious Education ...

Maths Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Long term Math Post - potentiall...

Science Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: We are currently recruiting for ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week